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One-topic Friday Thread!

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One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Mark B on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:49 am

We've had more than our share of less-than-terrific marathons lately, it seems, so I thought it might be interesting to post a single-topic Friday Thread that explores what happens when things go.... right.

So here it is: What was your No. 1, absolute best marathon experience? Tell us about it. What was it about that race that makes it stand out above all the others?
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Julie on Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:10 am

My best marathon experience was my second marathon I ran, Lincoln in 2007.

What made it the best? I had been training well all winter and spring and one of my running friends agreed to pace me and get me a really nice PR (4:39 vs 4:16 although our goal was 4:15, I ran a 4:16:16). I also had my parents, my sister and now bro-in-law come to cheer. I felt really good except for a few 14-16 miles I had some mental "oh no why am I going to run this far today? I don't like running more than 20 miles..." moments. The last few miles I had several other friends from my running group join us and cheer me on. My mom was waiting when I got my medal and was crying and gave me a big hug (I had that photo on my fridge for years). Then we all went out to eat, my family and running friends. So, it was a good PR, good friends, family, the weather wasn't perfect; rain the first few miles but then it stayed cloudy so it was never that hot.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Kenny B. on Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:53 am

emotionally speaking it was My first marathon having my brother running with me the last mile of Philly and hugging him right after at finish line with tears. Funny how my best marathon was my worst time 4:18 and I did walk/run for 10 miles. Dam.

Other then that I have yet to remember any other marathon especially the ones where I was running for a PR. I think running for my own goal is less meaningful then running for someone else or something else. I ran one marathon for fun but ended up pacing someone the last 10 miles to the finish line. He PR'd and was very grateful for my help. See that I remember.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  healdgator on Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:38 am

TBD. The first (and only) one was a disaster.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Chris M on Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:47 am

I'm tempted to give the flip answer and say "NONE!" because mostly the marathon has been a big disappointment for me. But I've had some great experiences in there as well, including doing a couple with friends (I've paced a buddy twice, run one start to finish with Martin VW and on Sunday Schuey paced me) and of course running Boston is always a great experience even though I'm 0-2 on running it well. Probably the marathon experience that I'm most proud of was my 2nd marathon in March 2009. I had done my first one in October 2008 and gotten a 3:50. I foolishly had in my head that I could cut 30 minutes off my time in 5 months and get a 3:20 BQ in my next marathon. Looking back, I did not do nearly enough mileage but I was maybe in 3:20-3:30 shape so I went for it. It took EVERYTHING I had but I held on late and got the 3:20 and the BQ. With maybe 2 miles to go, the 3:20 pace team passed me. It was that moment that I knew that my BQ depended on me hanging with them. It was ugly and painful but I did it. Funny how now I think of that as one of my favorite marathon memories but setting a tough goal and then suffering to get it is actually one of the things that draws me to the marathon. Sick, huh? I hope to have a future experience like that with finally getting to sub 3:00. For now, that day in March 2009 when the BQ pace team started to pass me and it was "now or never" time and I delivered will be my favorite marathon moment.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Admin on Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:04 am

@Mark B wrote:What was your No. 1, absolute best marathon experience?

5) My first double... was actually a double-double. I met up with a friend in Traverse City, MI and ran Bayshore, then we ran Madison, WI the next day. The following weekend we met up in WA and ran Green River, then drove up to Anacortes to catch the ferry to Friday Harbor and ran that one the next day. 4 marathons in 9 days!

4) My first BQ! I ran Chicago '06 in 3:23:59 (exactly 3mins off my BQ time). I knew I had 3 more mins in me, so I registered for Vegas which was 7 weeks later. In Vegas, I ran a 3:19:17! Three weeks later, I ran a 3:19:47 in Springfield, MO.

3) Marathons #29 - #34 were pretty incredible...

#29 A1A Marathon 02/22/09 Fort Lauderdale FL 3:40:54
(basically a run where I started still drunk from the night before and ended up helping a woman run her BQ time)
#30 Fort Worth Cowtown 02/28/09 Fort Worth TX 3:07:22
(6 days later, I ran a HUGE unexpected PR)
#31 Little Rock 03/15/09 Little Rock AR 3:01:02
(15 days later I ran ANOTHER huge PR)
#32 Hogeye Marathon 04/05/09 Fayetteville AR 3:06:51
(3 weeks later, still sub-3:10 on a TOUGH course)
#33 Windermere Marathon 05/16/09 Spokane WA 3:09:17
(still sub-3:10 on a warm day in the PNW)
#34 Andy Payne 05/23/09 Oklahoma City OK 3:04:22
(a week later, a sub-3:05 on warm day in OK)

2) Marathons #36 - #41 (6 in 9 days - a double triple)

#36 Pocatello Marathon 09/05/09 Pocatello ID 3:16
#37 New Mexico Marathon 09/06/09 Albuquerque NM 4:02
#38 Discovery Trail Marathon 09/07/09 Colorado Springs CO 4:08
#39 Patriots Run Marathon 09/11/09 Olathe KS 4:02
#40 Lake City Marathon 09/12/09 Winona Lake IN 4:42
#41 Lewis & Clark Marathon 09/13/09 St Louis MO 4:20

1) Chicago '10

I trained for Chicago last year with a goal of 2:59:xx. I ran for charity and told everyone who donated that my goal was to break 3 hours. I told everyone in every running circle that I frequent that my goal was 2:59:xx. 2 days before the race, I told the group at RWOL that I WILL RUN 2:59:xx. Not 2:58. Not 3:00. It will be 2:59:xx. On race day, I ran near perfect 5k splits. I executed the race the best I could have possibly run that day, and walked away 100% satisfied. I may run a faster time, but I don't think I can ever execute a race better than I did that day.

Chip Time: 2:59:35
Clock Time: 2:59:59





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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  John Kilpatrick on Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:12 am

I've only done one as well (Snickers marathon 2010)- did the mile 20 bonk thing, but finished. Had a goal of 3:20, but ended up with ~ 3:30. Like Chris, the 3:20 team passed me, but I had to just watch it go. I hung with them for about 5 minutes and that was that. I reset my goal to finish under 3:30 and I did just that by about 10 seconds or so. Was a little disappointed, but I was incredibly proud as well. I was freezing to death at the end, but that blanket and the medal felt SO good. I replay every stage of that thing in my mind from time to time - great memories. I've definitely got work to do timewise, but I will never forget the first one. I never dreamed it possible for me to do it - then I got motivated to train for it and thought it would be easier than it was - then, after the finish I remember saying out loud that it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I hope the next one is faster, but I hope I don't lose the excitement about the whole thing. Definitely one of those things that sort of changed my soul! Why do we love to suffer so much? This stuff hurts like hell sometimes, but we all just hunger for more! I think we are a bunch of freaks or something!!!!

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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Kenny B. on Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:30 am

OK let me give this more thought referencing my notes. Below is a list of marathon I did and what I remember. Most memorable is the first one.


  1. 2007 Philly - Finishing brought tears along with my brother joining me the last mile to finish line. All my family was there as well which added to the occasion. - Bonked at mile 16.
  2. 2008 Toronto - Wife and daughter came nothing memorable PR'd but bonked at mile 20 (met a v-teamer forgot who)
  3. 2008 Philly - great race PR'd negative split second half nothing to special about this one otherwise
  4. 2009 Philly- Thrilla in Philla ran this one with Seth which was very cool he kicked my ass come mile 15. Huge PR.
  5. 2010 SunTrust - PR'd was cool having wife and brother DC was fun hanging out and met V-teamers. Also cried a bit seeing brother again was cool at end big hugs.
  6. 2010 - NY - Self Transcendent- Weird race memorable that Seth met me there and it was 8 loops where the food of choice was seaweed. Ran this for FUN.
  7. 2010 - Lehigh Valley - another fun run best part was pacing someone for 10 miles. Up there as 2nd most memorable.
  8. 2010 - MCM - Not my favorite race did PR barely.
  9. 2010- NCR Trail - Pr'd again nice seeing kevin surprised half way through pretty cool of him to come to finish line as well. That was up there as memorable.
  10. 2011 - Ultra Festival - Trail run wet muddy and just miserable. The bad points were more memorable then the good. Fun run thankfully.
  11. 2011 - Ocean Drive - Cape May Vacation used it as fun run with family there. Nothing memorable.
  12. 2011 - Garden Sport - PA This was a great race. did it for fun super hilly something you do not want to race for a PR. Great scenic route just had a nice time talking to a lot of people etc.
I have had some memorable shorter distance races as well where my dad was there which is always nice. specifically the 10 mile prospect park race where it has become tradition (2 years now) to race it then go to L&B Spumoni Gardens for Pizza in brooklyn.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:08 pm

I'm trying really hard to adhere to the rule of picking just 1. But it's tough.

Emotionally, from the banner at mile 26 to the finish of my first (Long Beach 2010). There was this booth set up blasting really upbeat music at the 26th mile marker and the two ladies DJ'ing it were just going absolutely ape-shit into their microphones, screaming, "YOU DID IT!" Took a lot for me to not start sobbing after I crossed the line.

Mentally, what I consider to be an epic battle with "the monster" from mile 20-the end of my BQ (Orange County 2011). I took a page from Schuey's book and made it my mantra that I wasn't a quitter. I learned a hell of a lot about how much strength I have during that last 10k.

Physically, hasn't happened yet. It'll be breaking the 3hr barrier. Very Happy
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  jon c on Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:27 pm

1. Green Bay Marathon 2010: Not because I PR'd that race (3:29) so much as the day before there was a kids race (1K) that Hannah spontaneously decided she wanted to do with no pushing or cajoling from Dad. This was her first racing experience and I got to run it with her when she was 7. I'll never forget that. No doubt #1.

2. Omaha Marathon 2009: This was the first race I ran after adopting the "run more" philosophy. It was the first marathon that I held my pace throughout the race even throughout some of the early hills. It was a PR for me at that time. That's when I began to understand what it was going to take to improve my game. Perhaps I was a little slower in learning than others.....

3. Swan Lake Marathon 2008: I ran this one in 3:37 but what stood out was that I won the race outright. Talk about shocked! I did not see it coming, obviously. Was most likely the slowest winning marathon time in the country for the last decade and it was not even a Boston qualifying time for me. I won my first race ever at age 51. Life is full of surprises. Go figure. I'll take it though. My prize for winning: A green plastic container with homemade banana bread, cookies etc. Still have the container.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  KBFitz on Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:40 pm

@Mark B wrote:What was your No. 1, absolute best marathon experience?
No such thing. They're all good, all unique and all painful for sure. But I'll play (and I'll adhere to the question as asked, unlike some others ...).

My 'best' marathon experience was Philadelphia 2007. In 2007 I had trained to qualify for Boston [3:30] but ran afoul at the infamous LBCM07. Within days of that debacle, John P, Marcus 'Head-in-the-clouds' and I took up Philadelphia's Rocky Challenge. It was cold and wet and gorgeous for running. I started with Breen, passed Kathy on the waterfront, gave Scott C a shout-out in Manayunk (he crushed it), held tough for the last 10K [bouyed by Kathy & Julio on Boathouse Row (Mile 26)] and crossed the line in 3:28:41. It was my first BQ, first even splits marathon and first hot chicken soup after the finish - my that was good on a cold day! My brother ran the half and was there to see me finish. Pat F, Stephen F and Anke, Meggan Ann and the Baldo clan were there as well. I did well, yes. But that's not what makes it my 'best'. What makes it my 'best' is that it was shared with friends and family -- those who know what it's like to push through 26.2.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Mark B on Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:56 pm

I am really enjoying reading the responses so far. There are so many ways of defining "best" (most memorable? fastest? most challenging? most emotional?) that I expected to see a wide range of experiences. I've not been disappointed. Thanks!

So, here's mine, out of eight marathons total.

California International Marathon, 2009. I ran this race nine weeks after taking my marathon PR from 4:24 to 4:06 in Portland, and I took my PR down another step to 3:52. I've since improved that PR (3:46 in Eugene 2010) but I have never before or since felt as in control as I did that day. Looking back, that sense of mastery (I remember thinking, "Oh wow, 23 miles already? Really?") was even more satisfying than finally breaking 4 hours.

So, why did it work so well this time? Given how races have gone since then, it doesn't seem like I figured out the ultimate secret to racing marathons. But even so, I don't believe in race day magic, so there must have been a reason.

I think a few things played into it: It was a chilly morning (it snowed the next day, which is rare for that part of California), which may have helped my performance. It had also come after an extended period of Maffetone-inspired low heart rate runs that greatly improved my endurance. I may not have been super-fast, but I was strong. Running the Portland Marathon nine weeks earlier at a level slightly lower than my potential probably also played a role. It was a great training stimulus and proved to me that I could challenge the 4-hour barrier, so when it was time to dig deep in those last few miles, I knew my body would answer.

So it seems that conditions, conditioning and confidence all came together that day. It's a good mix.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Jerry on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:06 pm

I have been reflecting this myself. I have to admit I am a little surprised that Mark ..... lol!
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  MartinD on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:14 pm

London 2010 - while it wasn't the perfect marathon (very crowded at the start - had to drop to a walk for a bit in the first mile, and didn't feel able to run at my own pace until about 8 miles in), there are so many good memories:

  • the inappropriate music in the early miles (Half a World Away, Road to Nowhere - not what you want to hear when you still have over 20 miles to run)
  • Tower Bridge just before halfway
  • seeing the lead runners going past on the other side of the road just after halfway (they were through 20 by that point)
  • the long run down the Embankment, with Big Ben and the London Eye getting closer and closer
  • finding the perfect rhythm for the last few miles of the race - even though I'd been running for 3 hours, it felt like I could just keep on going
  • the last mile down Birdcage Walk, and the two famous right turns in front of Buckingham Palace onto the Mall
  • passing the Devil (complete with cape, horns and trident) in the last 100 yards
  • seeing 3:18 on the clock as I approached the finish (when my PR was just inside 3:30 at the time)
The best memory, though, was the atmosphere around the race - I was amazed by just how many people came out to support the runners. There was a stretch in the first half of the race where the crowd was 5 or 6 deep on either side of the road for at least half a mile. People were leaning out of windows and over the edge of bridges that crossed the route. Passing the cheer zones for the various charities was always a lift, particularly when one of their runners was going past at the same time. The support over those last few miles, particularly the last stretch after the right turn at Big Ben.

While I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for a race to set a time in (unless you're one of the fast people who are able to start at the front), I'd love to run London again purely to experience everything that's going on around the race - might be worth bearing in mind as a 'reward' for running a quick time next spring...
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Mark B on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:17 pm

@Jerry wrote:I have been reflecting this myself. I have to admit I am a little surprised that Mark ..... lol!

Suspect
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Jack_Scaff on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:24 pm

OK not one but 2. MCM 2008 and Napa 2009.

Depths of financial crisis, and I was in a pretty shitty state of mind due to my job, our merger and how my equity purchase in the company was finananced, dealing with clients losing boatloads of $$$, me losing $$$, my recently bought share in the company taking it in the tuckus, working with new people...I aged from SEPT 2008 - MAR 2009 quite a bit.

I recall being in DC in late OCT when things were crazy, going to one of the museuems and looking at/listening to the FDR fireside chat on bank runs.

Hit my first sub 4 in MCM and then a couple of months later improved a little bit.

Failed several times before at breaking four hours and had bad blowups since.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  healdgator on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:41 pm

@jon c wrote:1. Green Bay Marathon 2010: Not because I PR'd that race (3:29) so much as the day before there was a kids race (1K) that Hannah spontaneously decided she wanted to do with no pushing or cajoling from Dad. This was her first racing experience and I got to run it with her when she was 7. I'll never forget that. No doubt #1.


This is awesome. My oldest (5) talks about wanting to do some races. I may take her to one in the next couple of weeks. She's done a couple of little ones that didn't go very well. Then she did a 5k with my wife and mother in law that went worse. A 1k would be a better distance.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Glenn on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:46 pm

@KBFitz wrote: No such thing. They're all good, all unique and all painful for sure. But I'll play (and I'll adhere to the question as asked, unlike some others ...).

I was kind of having trouble with this for the same reasons. I'll answer in terms of my perfect storm marathon, from a running perspective: Grandma's this year. I had a good training cycle. The weather was perfect (but barely, rain stopped shortly before the gun). I had a good plan. I stuck with the plan. I ran a steady pace. I hit the 20 mile mark with plenty left in the tank. I even had something left at the 26.2 mile mark. I had run three marathons since my two year old PR, but I posted a 7 minute PR that day at Grandma's.

But by different criteria, that doesn't compare with my first marathon finish, when all of the sudden a former lard-ass was now a marathoner. Or by another criterion - I had an OK race at Eugene, but I finished at Hayward Field, and had my name called out on the PA system, on the track where Bowerman, Prefontaine et al., made their bones. Or by yet another criterion, Missoula 2007, one of my slowest, but I finished in 90+ degree temps.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Jerry on Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:48 pm

@Mark B wrote:
@Jerry wrote:I have been reflecting this myself. I have to admit I am a little surprised that Mark ..... lol!

Suspect

Reflecting one's glory on others' misery is naughty, more like Jerry. lol!
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Mark B on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:01 pm

@Jerry wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
@Jerry wrote:I have been reflecting this myself. I have to admit I am a little surprised that Mark ..... lol!

Suspect

Reflecting one's glory on others' misery is naughty, more like Jerry. lol!

Hm. Well, I didn't mean to be sadistic....
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Diego on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:03 pm

Ok, my first at Chicago was great for the memories. Chickamauga was great for the course, the 2nd place AG award I won and the kids bounce house zone that kept my wife and son happy. Chicago 2009 was great because I PB'd with a 3:01-- 13 minutes faster than 6 months earlier at Boston and capped the best training cycle of my life. It's not #1 because I raced the marathon from mile 2-26.2 and felt it the entire way. It physically, emotionally and psychologically drained me--fun in retrospect, but not during.

My favorite was Boston 2009. I had a chance to get revenge on Boston, have a pleasurable run with Scott C. for the first half or so and then ran even faster over the final 8 miles, including Heartbreak. The crowds there made me feel so good, I could have run another 2-4 miles. I have never been so disappointed to have a race end.Sad
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:10 pm

I cannot come up with just one since I've run 37 over a course of 31 years and there were many good ones and many bad ones. I can't even remember my first BQ (Newport, RI - except I walked the last 0.2 miles0, my first official Boston (except that I had a cup of grape juice at mile 25), or even the day that I broke 3 hrs (MCM 1987) probably since they were so long ago.

In recent years, I think it would have to be Flying Pig in 2004. That day, I perfectly executed the plan and ran the first negative split marathon that I had ever run. I've most definitely run well executed marathons again (St. George 2008 and Ridge to Bridge 2010), but the Pig was my first. Everything was right including the weather which was actually 50F and drizzling and the experience still resonates with me 7+ years later.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Jerry on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:14 pm

@Mark B wrote:
@Jerry wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
@Jerry wrote:I have been reflecting this myself. I have to admit I am a little surprised that Mark ..... lol!

Suspect

Reflecting one's glory on others' misery is naughty, more like Jerry. lol!

Hm. Well, I didn't mean to be sadistic....

That also depends on who reads it. affraid
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Seth Harrison on Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:56 pm

Of my five marathons, Philly 2009 was my proudest moment. I BQ'd by 25 seconds (actually one minute and 25 seconds) with a PR of 3:29:35. Having enjoyed the experience of running Philly so much, I'm heading back in 5 weeks to try to recapture the BQ.
Except for how poorly I ran, Boston 2011 was everything I had hoped it would be. It was the ultimate marathon weekend, including a great gathering before the race, being paced by Kevin, and meeting everyone for beers in Chris's hotel room post race.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

Post  Mark B on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:17 pm

@Jerry wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
@Jerry wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
@Jerry wrote:I have been reflecting this myself. I have to admit I am a little surprised that Mark ..... lol!

Suspect

Reflecting one's glory on others' misery is naughty, more like Jerry. lol!

Hm. Well, I didn't mean to be sadistic....

That also depends on who reads it. affraid

Actually, I kind of hope the people who feel like they bombed recent marathons do read this and take part. Maybe it's too fresh for some, but I see real benefit in going back and comparing what did and didn't work in past races. Even if it only helps to realize that races aren't (hopefully) always suck-fests, it can offer some hope to keep trying and generate some ideas of what to try next, whatever that may be.
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Re: One-topic Friday Thread!

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